When we first moved up to Scotland, Kevin was unemployed for 6 months. Despite searching for a job, it just didn't happen right away. He would spend his days writing a novel (that I accidentially deleted - oops!) and making bread.
It is amazing the magic a freshly baked loaf can work - he never cleaned the house, rarely bought groceries, we were barely making it on 1 income, but who cared because when I got home from work each day, there was a warm loaf of bread with butter waiting for me.
For 8 years we made bread almost daily - working our way through more traditional loaves, to the "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" method and then back again. We rarely bought bread - except for the odd pregnancy induced cravings I had for shop bread, our house was our own bakery.
Then we moved here, to a house with a beast of an Aga-style range. On our first day here, we set pizza on fire. No matter what we did, everything baked unevenly, if it baked at all. 18 months in, we finally had someone out to look at the 35 year old Rayburn to discover that the innards were rusted to bits and nothing could have cooked correctly even if we wanted it to.
In the last 6 months, we have slowly been experimenting with baking - a cake here, a pie there, but last on the list was bread. There were some mega-fails - flat hard, burnt loafs that not even the chickens would eat. However, we seem to have fallen into a groove with it all, having perfected a sandwich loaf that is not only light and delicious, but a hit with the kids. Its honestly a strange sort of relief to be able to reliably make bread again.
As a rather introspected aside, I don't think its a coincidence that just as my crafting mojo returned, my baking one came back as well. I have this sort of manic desire to just make things all the time. I was up at 5am this morning to knit and bake and as soon as I possibly can tear myself away from the computer this morning, I will be back at the baking and making again. I forgot how good it feels to make things (other than sentences or pattern layouts or crocheting for deadlines)!
Basic Sandwich Loaf
(Makes 1 - 2lb loaf)
320g strong bread flour
7g of instant yeast
350ml warm whole milk
200g strong bread flour
3T sugar (or less to suit taste)
60g melted butter
1 egg yolk
Mix the ingredients for the sponge, cover and set aside for about an hour until its frothy and has swelled.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well - either use a machine with a dough hook or knead until it is silky and smooth. the dough should be sticky, but not too wet. If you are using a machine it will stick to the bottom of the bowl but not the sides, so adjust the mixture accordingly.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled (about 1.5-2h).
Punch down and reform to go into a loaf tin. Let rise for 1-1.5h. Bake at 180C for 35-40 minutes.
This recipe is easily doubled and makes delicious light dinner rolls as well.